Best Way to Battle Insomnia

Calling all my Insomnia Ozbargainers here..

Being an Insomnia-er is sucks! I always got jealous looking at those people who can fall asleep within seconds…like literally putting their head on the pillow, then off they go to their lala land..

I had worst Insomnia lately where I only managed to sleep total of 10 hours for the whole week. I was drained as hell….I have tried all the natural remedies to battle this, not really effective. And I'm trying using sleeping pills as much as I can.

For those of you who are like me, any tips battling this curse? and what was your worst Insomnia experience?

Of all the crap things I have to deal in my life, I just want to have a good sleep every night…sigh….

Comments

  • +10

    Meditation.

    • +19

      That, and regular exercise (don’t do this before bed, however, as that'll have the opposite effect).

      You can also consider the following:

      • Warm showers before bed (the body will naturally want to drift you off to sleep as your core temperature drops)
      • No caffeine 3-4 hours prior to bed
      • No blue light emitting objects 2 hours prior to bedtime (PC, TV or mobile use)
      • Reading, or anything that’s non-stimulating 1-2 hours prior to bedtime (ditch the EDM playlist for something more mild, and with less BPM/tempo)

      And definitely no Taro Milk Tea, or sugar for that matter, before you sleep! (Try chamomile instead)

      Try to have a routine built around this to keep you on schedule, and for your own sake, don't 'force' yourself to sleep. Just go with the above and take it one day at a time.

      Good luck!

      • +4

        Add to that only go to bed to sleep and for mad sexual intercourse. No watching tv in bed etc.
        Although since OP said they've tried all natural remedies, I'm assuming they've done all this already.

        • +1

          Right, thank you bohn, missed that point - if you've tried all of the above points feel free to report my above comment OP to have it deleted!

          • +3

            @bossmode: Definitely don't delete, it might help some other poor insomniac ;)

        • +2

          Same goes for phones in bed as for TV's.

        • +1

          I usually prefer happy sexual intercourse.

      • +1

        Thanks for all the tips, I did pretty much all of those you listed…EXCEPT the blue light emitting objects - too darn difficult not to use your phone when you are relaxing…sigh Though I tried to reduce it these days, but still doesn't resolve the issue

        don't 'force' yourself to sleep.

        ^this, I think now everytime I want to go to sleep, I feel so anxious because I'm afraid I can't sleep again. So I tried to force myself to sleep, but in the end didn't sleep anyway lol

        • +1

          too darn difficult not to use your phone when you are relaxing

          https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eyefilter....
          something similar on iOS

          • -5

            @bohn: I play my phones with the room light on, so I don't really need this feature i suppose?

        • +5

          Your brain craves little pockets of information, that's why the phone, with all its potential to keep your brain fed on stories and notifications is one of the worst things you can have on you when you're trying to sleep.

          If you're anxious about needing to sleep, you won't be able to sleep - that's just how it works. Try swapping out your habit of checking your phone 2 hours prior to bedtime with a book. It's a tough transition because everyone these days are wired to just want more, more, more, but in the long run, it will help manage your insomnia as it’s less stimulating.

          • @bossmode:

            Your brain craves little pockets of information, that's why the phone, with all its potential to keep your brain fed on stories and notifications is one of the worst things you can have on you when you're trying to sleep.

            I think without the extra information from my phone, somehow my brain just can't have some rest. I just kept thinking of something weird or I could even sometimes remember some events in the past.

            Try swapping out your habit of checking your phone 2 hours prior to bedtime with a book. It's a tough transition because everyone these days are wired to just want more, more, more, but in the long run, it will help manage your insomnia as it’s less stimulating.

            I guess I could try more reading then, is reading through Kindle a good idea?

            • +1

              @Taro Milk Tea: Do something like audible so everything is hands off… maybe some background noise might make you feel calm. Worked with me when I had my episodes. Maybe try listening to ASMR to sleep.

              • @westzod:

                Maybe try listening to ASMR to sleep

                eugh sorry, but I hate listening to ASMR lolll

                Audible makes me even more curious if I listen to good book lol

        • +4

          get a few babies to look after, especially between 3mo - 9mo

        • +3

          Then you are actually still actively doing one of the major causes of insomnia, if you can't get over your addiction to turn that off well before bed then you are destined for a lot more insomnia

        • I charge my phone in a different room overnight and just use an alarm clock to wake me. That defeats the temptation to check your phone and has improved my sleep tenfold.

    • Definitely helps. 10-15 mins breathe (mindfulness) meditation before bed calms the mind enough and stops the chatter. I've also found using Insight Timer (Android app) works, they have a sleep meditation section. Some of the best sleep guided meditations I've tried are ones by Kenneth Soares and any by Jason Stephenson.

      Also, I find an eye mask helps as the darker the room the better. Want to block out all light.

  • +11

    Melatonin, Order from iHerb, its the best

    • Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep–wake cycle. It is primarily released by the pineal gland. As a supplement, it is often used for the short-term treatment of trouble sleeping such as from jet lag or shift work.Evidence of benefit, however, is unclear.

      Have you used it? It says only to be used for short-term treatment, which could be addictive if used for long term.

      • +2

        its not addictive, well not for me anyway. I use it quite frequently. and sleep normally on the days I do not have it!. I use the 10mg natrol brand from iHerb. You also wake up fresh the next day! and not drowsy

        • Any particular brand you recommend. 3mg, 5mg or 10mg?

      • +2

        i've used circadin (slow release melatonin) after a chest infection. i was only getting 1 hour of sleep per night. i think it helped. it was quite expensive (around $30?). i think it is a first line prescription used by gps for treating insomnia. but you really should see a gp.

        • +3

          It's only expensive from the local chemist. Dirt cheap on iHerb.

      • There's zero evidence of it being addictive. It's not a medication, it's a naturally occurring hormone. There are no side effects, no potential to overdose, and no risk of harm.

        There was a piece about it on the radio recently where a GP was saying there's no real reason why it shouldn't be over the counter, or off the shelf, rather than prescribed. But it's easy enough to find cheaply online.

        • There's relatively little risk of harm to adults, but supplementing children with melatonin may affect the onset of puberty, based on animal studies.

      • Taking melatonin is not associated with negative feedback (when taking supplementation causes your body to produce less of a hormone). It is also not addictive, and is not toxic.

        Source: https://examine.com/supplements/melatonin/

      • I've used it on and off (mostly on) over many years, no issues whatsoever. When I'm on holidays (and therefore not stressed from work) I can stop taking it and sleep fine. It's been a great sleep aid for me. If you pair it with 5-htp it's even better

      • I only use it for days my brain just can't shut up these days. It's helpful when you are in the phase of insomnia where you worry that something is seriously wrong with you and that you will never be able to sleep again… It breaks this thinking pattern, because duh it works. I do find that I wake up a bit groggy in the morning, but it might also be because I have small children that think 4:30 is a reasonable time to wake up.

    • -2

      I like to use this to establish a rhythm but after a while you get too dependant, so you need to cycle on it.

      I ordered some just the other day in actual fact. You gotta get the time release one.

      • +4

        There's zero evidence of dependency for melatonin. It's the same stuff your body produces. Just some people don't produce enough naturally, or are under-reactive to it, or they have other issues preventing sleep where an increase of melatonin can help.

        • @kapone - My body may be different, but I find if I keep taking it and stop then I struggle to fall asleep. Maybe when I take it, my body stops producing as much?

          For me, I have to cycle on and off otherwise I become too reliant on the tablets.

    • +4

      I'm hearing conflicting information about this. From HealthDirect.gov.au:
      "Melatonin is available in Australia as a pill called Circadin. You will need a prescription from your doctor to buy it."

      I've heard that the only melatonin you can legally buy over the counter here in AU is actually homeopathy i.e. snake oil

      • +1

        You can legally import it from the USA, iHerb is a USA site

      • +2

        In short, in Australia, melatonin for human use is classified as a restricted, prescription only (schedule 4) substance under the TGA's Poisons Standard (SUSMP). Possession without authority is illegal.

        There have been attempts to amend the SUSMP such that low strength preparations may be exempt, but that was rejected by the TGA back in 2016/17.

        Going to your doctor and getting a prescription for Circadin is the only clear legally correct path.

        You are correct in that OTC melatonin preparations sold in Australian pharmacies and vitamin stores are homeopathic.

      • +1

        Yeah, you need a prescription in Aus, but it's easily sourced online.

        My son was prescribed it, and it was costing $70 as we needed it in liquid form, which we could only get from a compounding pharmacist. I now pay $7 for exactly the same stuff from iHerb.

      • It's really cheap in America. Unfortunately we live in a nanny state which is deeply feerful of individual initiative and thus real melatonin is banned from sale (but I have never had issues importing it). For most people, the sustained release pill form is the one to get. IHerb has cheap delivery.

        2 observations: 1. Melatonin isn't as effective as

        1. Melatonin increases REM (dreaming sleep), which I consider a positive but others might not. It is particularly useful thus combined with benzodiazepines, because they attenuate REm sleep.
      • Yes it is a prescription medication called Circadin. I am on it for past week due to same issue as OP. Unable to say at this point if it helps my sleep pattern as I haven't noticed any big change.

      • +1

        Any OTC melatonin is heavily diluted, if you read the packets it will say 'diluted to x'

        The only one that works is prescription.

        • BS. Consumer Reports did a test on American OTC melatonin, the name brands were all perfectly fine. My son who is autistic uses the 5mg blackberry gummies.

          • @cannedhams: Link to product plz. I'd like to see how much melatonin is actually in the product. I meant OTC in Australia to be clear. I am very interested to get it from the states if it's cheaper and still contains a non-diluted amount :)

      • I was on Circadin for a long time and it worked. The problem is, it is even in the highest AU dosage, a very low dose. I found moving to other melatonin manufacturers that sell in the in US and will ship to AU, worked better. iHerb and KosherVitamins are great for getting these.

    • Melatonin makes me super-groggy post-sleep, but never actually made me drift off faster. I always found it consistently negated any purported benefits.

      • I guess different effects for different people. its been a life saver for me

      • Sounds like you might have slow-release tablets, have you tried immediate release instead?

        • Not sure to be honest

      • try taking it an hour before you think you're gonna go to sleep…

        i usually take it at 9PM then also try to wind down… that way mentally you're ready to sleep when the melatonin hormone starts to kick in which is usually between 30-60mins after taking it…

        when the 'sleep wave' comes, don't fight it, it is meant to be how the natural sleep hormone works, so just drop everything you're doing and go to bed…

        sometimes if you fight the 'sleep wave' then you gotta wait for the next wave and during that time your adrenalin may shoot off esp if you've been having sleep deficiencies…

        i find that i have to keep using it every 2 days for about a week then i'm back on normal sleeping patterns again…

    • Melatonin, Order from iHerb, its the best

      Does absolutely nothing for me.

      • +2

        Did you buy it here or did you order from the US? Cause all the "melatonin" that's sold here is bullcrap homeopathic garbage (unless you get a prescription for actual melatonin).

        • I got it on prescription from my GP.

          • @pjetson: Well then you might just be one of those rare cases. Bad luck. :(

      • It will only produce a benefit if your sleep disorder is related to a melatonin deficit (as is sometimes the case for autism, elder people, shift workers and others). For many others, it will not help.

    • Knowing how much Ozbargainers love Amazon, OP could try this one:
      https://www.amazon.com.au/Nature-Made-Melatonin-Gummies-Supp...

    • This!. I was going to post the same thing when i saw the title. I am a terrible sleeper, (falling asleep and staying asleep). I actually need TV to help me fall asleep as my brain then relaxes if i am watching a simple TV show, if i dont then my brain starts thinking about a 100 things at once. I exercise every day which does help. Melatonin makes the biggest difference for me. Its not perfect of course but helps me get more hours each day. I also take ZMA and then there are some herbal options which apparently can help, didnt make heaps of difference for me like Valerian, 5-HTP, Gaba.

  • -2

    I'm willing to bet your diet has a big influence on your sleeping habits. Consider healthier food and lots of exercise.

    • are you implying that OP is fat ?

      • Having an unhealthy diet doesn't make you 'fat'! YOu can eat junk food and be thin as a rake and still have it effect your energy levels and sleep pattern.

        And even if they were saying that fat might effect you sleep…so what? Being overweight is not healthy…and like it effects you when awake it can effect you when trying to go to sleep.

    • +1

      just bcause of my username? Such a judgement!

      On contrary, I am a gym junkie, minimum 3 sessions every week. So no, my diet is fine.

      But I still can't resist getting TMT once a week though

      • Hey maybe that's your problem. Too much hormones and adrenaline is keeping you up.

        • +1

          Hm…is it? I usually go to gym in the morning/late afternoon anyway, never at evening or close to my sleep time.

          • @Taro Milk Tea: What time do you normally have your evening meal? And what did you eat the last 3 evening meals?

  • +3

    My partner had sleep insomnia for her entire adult life.
    Based on some recommendations from friends and family we got some Melatonin tablets, shes been using them for the past couple months and she's been sleeping great!

    We get these ones from Amazon
    https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B004R66PVG/ref=ppx_yo_d...

    • +2

      i think you have been a great help for her too.

    • +1

      How did you decide on 10mg?

      The National Sleep Foundation recommend a dosage of between 0.2 milligrams (mg) and 5 mg for adults each day
      https://www.sleep.org/articles/how-much-melatonin-to-take/

      • +1

        I should've added some additional details, she cuts the tablets in half each night so they are 5 mg doses, my mistake!

        • This is what i do as well. I cut the tablets in half. so basically i get between 2.5 - 5mg depending on which tablets i bought.

    • Thanks, someone else mentioned the same thing as well above.

      But according to what I read, it's meant to be consumed only for short-term. Is your partner now sleeping well without depending on it?

      • For the first couple weeks she took a 5mg dose every night, but since then she has been weening herself off of them(1 dose every 3-4 nights or so recently). As far as I'm aware, she hasn't noticed any side effects or withdrawals since reducing her dosage.

        • OK thanks, I'll keep this option in my mind, maybe I will give it a try

          • +1

            @Taro Milk Tea: No problem, no matter what you do, hope you get it sorted, seeing her before and after was like night and day.
            Best of luck mate.

        • my wife took Melatonin for long time, there are no side effects and it's not addictive.

  • I have heard of someone having success treating insomnia with acupuncture.
    But you need to go to someone reputable.

    • +1

      Too expensive..I'm just a broke ass student here

  • Curios too know if you've been diagnosed with it or self diagnosed?

    I'm about to create a similar post regarding sleep apnea. I've used cpap, bipap machines, mouth guards etc, with no luck.

    • Self diagnosed. I been having this for few years now.

      Did you get yourself diagnosed?

      • +1

        I would go and see a gp as it may be somthing completely different. It can be solved.

        The specialists don't know the issue for me as the traditional techniques aren't working. I stop breathing when I sleep and wake up constantly. So I'm getting broken sleep and wake up exhausted.

      • +1

        Yeah I'd suggest seeing a doctor. Insomnia could be a symptom of an underlying issue, that may be relatively simple to fix by a health professional.

  • +2

    no napping during the day, exercise, diet, stay awake until you are really sleepy, stress relief (high cortisol), possibly melatonin tablets (needs gp's prescription). consult a gp

  • I stay awake as long as i possibly can, sometimes up to 72 hours, then my body just is so tired, i sleep for 16-20 hours straight, and then reset my circadian rhythms, i try to take 1-2 hr naps till i get my sleep schedule on track again.

    • I stay awake as long as i possibly can, sometimes up to 72 hours

      Don't you get stressed knowing you have to wait until 72 hours to finally be able to sleep?

      I just can't do that, at least I need some sleep even if its only 1 hour

      • I didnt say its always 72 hours, its just till i cant take it anymore, and i am both mentally and physically exhausted to the point that i cannot not sleep. It resets my sleep schedule too.

  • +4

    So the first question is why are you not sleeping?

    Is your mind out of control like a lot of people? In which case the top suggestion of learning to meditate should be a prime consideration. If you have enough control to quiet your mind and something else is keeping you awake then you have to figure out what. How much coffee/tea do you drink and what times do you drink it? Do you watch TV or screw with your phone before or in bed? Is your phone near you when you are sleeping? If so, leave it in another room before going to bed. Are their outside noises keeping you awake?

    Find some great sleeping music and play it quietly when you go to bed, just focus on the music and drift off naturally (I have found that tracks of around1-3 hours seem to work best for some reason). My suggestions are: Jean Michel Jarre - Waiting For Cousteau ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pH2UxxdXAfg ) Brian Eno - Thursday Afternoon ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggLTPyRXUKc ) Or anything by Kip Mazuay ( https://soundcloud.com/quynci-j-harley/kip-mazuy-a-sensual-d... ) http://www.bliss-music.com/ I'm sure you can find other stuff as well. But do that for a while and you can train yourself to go to sleep. Melatonin is a good suggestion mentioned as well but like sleeping pills is not a permanent solution. BTW long term use of sleeping pills will actually make your insomnia worse ( https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/risks-taking-sleeping-pi... ). Also you haven't mentioned supps at all but if I have too many after mid afternoon that effects my sleep as well. So feel free to give us as much info as you can think of, it's OK, I wont tell anyone else. :)

    This guy is pretty good as well.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ARDCi6OGjw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wi6yMDOhqU

    Good luck man, not getting sleep is a real bitch…

    • Thanks mate, i think primarily it's my brain who is losing control at night. I can't stop thinking about lot of things.

      I'll research more about meditation, never really believe in that kind of thing before, but since many of you suggesting it, I might reconsider it.

      Find some great sleeping music and play it quietly when you go to bed, just focus on the music and drift off naturally

      Unfortunately I can't sleep with some musics on, tried it though…just didn't work.

      • +2

        Learning to quiet the mind is one of the paramount exercises in life but it can be a long learning curve depending on a variety of things, but WELL WORTH it once you start to glimpse what's really going on and start your walk, hint: you are not your mind. ;)

        There are many approaches to this goal depending on where you are currently at. If you can't fall asleep to music then try listening before you go to sleep instead as will help your brain get into the right state. I don't we are designed to have the mind running 24/7 nor are we able to cope with the amount of information we are constantly bombarded with on a daily basis. Self-discipline is the key in that regard. For me, I have stopped all social media (except for 1 or two forums like this one), I don't watch the TV news and am slowly weaning myself of 'news' altogether. It does make a big difference and life is much better for it.

  • yeh im one of those people who can sleep within seconds of putting my head on the pillow.

    my wife is very jealous of this as she has trouble sleeping, not due to insomnia but due to a chronic pain in her ribs.
    to help with sleeping the doctor prescribed her a very mild dose of an anti-depressant. this helps to numb the pain and also makes her very drowsy. she doesn't use it every night, maybe 3-4 times a week, and it helps to get her in a routine to which she can sleep better even on the nights she doesn't take it

    • Thanks, now you are making me jealous too…

      I probably will avoid asking for anti-depressant, but thanks for the input

      • +1

        fair enough, that would be quite a drastic step.

        i can sleep easily pretty much anywhere except when flying. i travel to europe on average once a year and the most sleep i have ever managed is 2 hours in total from both legs. this is most likely something to do with my position and comfort. considering this have you tried different types of mattresses or pillows? maybe firmer/softer of each could help.

  • +1

    After reading the above comments and your replies it seems quite simple - ditch the phone at least an hour or 2 before bed.

  • Meditation may assist.

    Another suggestion is Rescue Remedy Sleep Spray. It's meant to assist when you cannot sleep due to stress.

    • Another suggestion is Rescue Remedy Sleep Spray(chemistwarehouse.com.au). It's meant to assist when you cannot sleep due to stress

      Interesting…have you used it? Does it work?
      I always sceptical with this kind of stress reliever thing…If $20 product can help you calm down, why don't many people use it?

      • +1

        It's assisted me when I cannot get to sleep easily - usually when I've got too much on at work ie. competing deadlines, etc. I first used it at uni around exams time and it's worked well everytime I've used it.

        It's important to understand why you cannot either get to sleep or have broken sleep, etc. The sleep remedy won't work for everyone because it's not as simple as that - people have issues with their sleep for a variety of reasons so it's an advantage if you can get insight into why you have sleep difficulties.

        Good luck!

        • +1

          My Mum used to work for the company that makes Rescue Remedy and while I never had sleep issues, I would use a similar product from them before uni exams, job interviews, etc. that would make me less anxious. I thought it worked, but I guess sleep is a whole different level.

          • @snowdognz: I've used it too and found it very effective.

  • +1

    https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/372001 My thread when I couldn't sleep awhile back. The ideas suggested may help.

    Is this a recent thing or long term issue. We aren't experts here and it's probably worth speaking to a health professional for a proper diagnosis.

    My tips - Don't look at any TV or electronic devices for at least 1hour from your normal sleep time. You should be getting at least 7 to 8hrs. If not more, but life is busy. Do you actually get enough sleep once you are at that point. If not you may have sleep apnea where it is waking you up due to breathing issues.

    Have a small warm milk with some Activite or malt. Not large as you'll wake up in the middle of the night wanting to go to the toilet.
    Read a non fiction book. How to book. Something that's not exciting, but interesting.

    Wear an eye mask to block out all light.

    If all fails I think of batting in cricket and smashing the ball all over the place. That seems to work as its the last thing I usually remember if I am having difficulty sleeping. Or something like that. You just need to find something that is repetitive. Say the old counting the sheep idea. IMO. Your mind is very active and is not switching off. Also no one has mentioned the other thing as that usually works, but you need someone else to get that happening.

    Good luck.

    • Thanks for the reference to your old post, quite an interesting reading.

      Is this a recent thing or long term issue.

      It's a long term issue, it comes and goes. When it happens, it happens for a quite long period of time. Of course, there will be times I became like zombie (after lack of sleeping) then I just die straight away when I touched the bed.

      I just need some experience from the fellow OZB here on how to finally fix this forever, so thanks for all the reply so far.

      • +1

        So your thinking my last option. I'm sure there are some experienced OZbs that can help you with that. ;) . Seriously though if it has been a long term thing its best to speak with a doctor. Give us an update as well later as to what did or didn't work for you.

  • I don't have insomnia but occasionally when I can't fall asleep and my brain is running while, I focus on thinking about a piece of white, blank paper, with no border.

    If that fails, I would focus on on group of my muscles, and relax them one at a time.

  • +1

    Suggest shift work and having kids :/

  • +1

    After having irregular insomnia for several years (for me this was staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning a couple of times a week, but never sleeping in less than one hour of head hitting the pillow) I cut out caffeine and started taking magnesium supplements [600mg per day at 4pm everyday on a timer (2 ish Cenovis tablets at Chemist Warehouse)].

    I had been avoiding cutting out caffeine because i love my coffee, but it was the biggest night and day difference I have ever noticed in my life for achieving regular semi-fast sleep times. The Magnesium is for symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome - i find it helps. The other big factor is forcing myself to have strict wake up discipline, wake up at the same time every day, and preferably go to bed at the same time each day, it helps if that time is a time that you feel tired, but aim for 8 hours sleep per night.

    Good luck, not being able to drink caffeine sucks, but not being able to sleep is just awful. Now I am exploring the weird world of decaf…

    • Caffeine is not really an issue for me, I don't drink coffees and don't drink tea at night too.

      and started taking magnesium supplements [600mg per day at 4pm everyday on a timer (2 ish Cenovis tablets at Chemist Warehouse)].

      Does this do anything if I may know?

      Good luck, not being able to drink caffeine sucks, but not being able to sleep is just awful. Now I am exploring the weird world of decaf…

      Completely agree, just really need a regular good sleep. The simplest thing I could ask for…but hardest to achieve to some people :(

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